I've been falling in love with our slow cooker and plan on using it more often. Since my husband has a new work schedule for fall, I'm going to be managing picking up the kids from school, doing homework and making dinner all before he gets home. Since I'll have been at work all day up until I get the kids, I won't have much time to do any prep work.
Which is where using the slow cooker will come in handy. Unfortunately, I've found that a lot of the recipes I've seen using a Crock Pot look, well, less than flavorful. I guess that may come par for the course when you dump a bunch of food in a pot and leave it be. So, I've been on the lookout for recipes that still fall in line with my "foodie" approach to cooking and baking and, as I find them, I'll be sharing. (Note: I really dislike the term, foodie, it sounds really pretentious, but I have a soft spot for alliteration.)
Here's the first one I made this week, with some heavy doctoring for flavor. The goal is to have enough food to last two dinners and require minimal work during the actual dinner time. Since we'll also be making large dinners on Sunday for leftovers, this will only require that I scurry last minute one night a week to get something on the table. And, most likely it will be something easy, like eggs.
Slow Cooker Beef Stew
1 1/2 lbs beef stew meat
2 Tablespoons olive oil (optional)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 lb small Crimini mushrooms (cut in half if large)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1/8 cup dry red wine
1 cup chicken stock
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
2 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried)
2 Tablespoons butter (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste
You have two choices. You can either put all the above ingredients in your slow cooker and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or you can sauté some of the ingredients first to give it a more complex flavor and crust.
If you do the latter, sauté the onions and mushrooms in olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat until they start getting soft (about 5 minutes), add in the garlic, red pepper flakes and tomato paste and cook until brown (about 3 minutes). Add in the red wine vinegar and soy sauce to heat. Place cooked ingredients in the slow cooker. Add the beef to the pan, searing the outside to give it a crust (a few minutes per side). Put sauteed beef into your slow cooker. Add the red wine to the pan to deglaze it and then put the wine, chicken stock, and thyme into the cooker. Commence with the slow cooking. This additional prep took me about 20 minutes.
This recipe was inspired by the Slow Cooker Beef & Mushrooms recipe over at Sweet Anna's.
This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday!